Kyle Busch, the reigning Sprint Cup champion, is trying to do something extremely rare: win the Sprint Cup two years in a row. Richard Petty has done it, Dale Earnhardt has done it, Jeff Gordon has done it, and Jimmie Johnson has done it, as have a handful of others. The point is, it’s special, rare, and good company to share.
Busch is currently fourth in the Sprint Cup standings as he heads to Watkins Glen this weekend.
“One thing that we look forward to is going to the road courses,” Busch said on CBS Sports Radio’s Tiki and Tierney. “I always tend to run well at the road courses, and we get a chance to run the Watkins Glen this weekend. We’re looking forward to that. It gives me a neat opportunity to turn right, turn left and hopefully go after another win and get ourselves higher in the standings for the Chase.”
Busch, who won the Xfinity and the Brickyard, trails Kevin Harvick, Brad Keselowski, and his brother, Kurt Busch, in the standings. Those racers rank first through third, perspectively.
As one can imagine, it’s not easy competing against your brother.
“It’s a challenge, that’s for sure,” Busch said. “Sometimes you race against all the rest of the competitors out there, and of course you want to beat them all. But when it comes down to a teammate or a brother, you kind of race them a little bit better, you give them a little bit more room, a little bit more respect, if you will. The worst thing in the world is if you wreck a teammate or if you wreck a brother, so you just try to make sure that that doesn’t happen.”
Then again, wrecks create rivalries. So does excellence. In fact, Busch said that Harvick and Keselowski are his two biggest rivals. But even though wrecks and fights can drive ratings – no pun intended – Busch would rather witness confrontation than instigate it.
“Obviously a lot of guys tend not to really like each other, and we know that we’re racing against the same guys each and every weekend,” Busch said. “So we pretty much have to go out there and not necessarily mind our p’s and q’s, but we’ve got sponsors on the line that want to see us go out here and do well and win races but yet carry sort of a clean image and not really stir things up that much. It’s obviously way better when you’re on the outside looking in. Seeing two other guys kind of go at it, it’s a lot more fun to watch than when you’re one of the guys that’s involved in the rivalry.”
As Tiki Barber pointed out, though, there aren’t as many intense rivalries as there once were in NASCAR, which may or may not be why attendance and ratings are down. Busch, however, doesn’t think that problem is unique to racing.
“I actually think it’s a little bit of everywhere,” he said. “I feel like baseball stadiums are down a little bit until you get to the playoffs or until you get to the World Series. (In) football, the Jacksonville Jaguars, for instance, those guys are really low on fan count. It’s not every team, but I think there’s a lot of opportunities out there where all of us can learn from one another how to grow our brands and grow our sports and get more people in the seats. Truthfully, we’ve got attendance numbers that are down across the board, and we’ve got TV numbers that are down across the board, and it’s not just for NASCAR; it’s for all sports in general. It’s for all of TV in general. Even reality TV is down a little bit. People just are finding different opportunities or different avenues to go out there and enjoy life and enjoy themselves and enjoy their families. It’s not always that we’re going to be able to fill the grand stands of 100,000 people every single week. (It comes down to) money. People don’t always have the free spend that they used to have.”